Managing multiple business locations, no matter the industry, takes someone who can see the big picture, someone who is organized, and someone who is willing to adapt to change quickly. Obviously, the larger the business locations the more challenging this task can be. However, it certainly is not impossible by far. One of the biggest things I have found, recommend, and have demanded from my teams is: Communication.
Constant Communication. You won’t see your co-workers or employees in the hallway since they are at other sites, so the spontaneous communication isn’t going to work. If you’re going to be five minutes late for the meeting (which I don’t recommend, but does happen occasionally), you won’t run into your team in the hallway to let them know. Ensure your employees know what is going on through standardized channels.
Adapt New Technology. Technology is meant to make our lives easier; although, this isn’t always the case. Touch base with your team to find out what types of technology they use on a regular basis and adapt the way you communicate to use technology they use and are used to. Just make sure that you clearly communicate what form of technology will be used for what type of communication (and stick to it). Some forms of low-cost (or free) technology available includes: Skype, Google Documents, Gmail, Salesforce, and Facebook.
However, as most people already know and understand, it is difficult to portray a certain tone of voice through email and everyone will read into something that is written differently. Ensure that what you are sending out is professionally written and leaves as little room for misconception as possible. In addition, make sure you have all necessary information included in the communication. The biggest time waster is when one simple email has to be clarified for the next 4 hours…via email. Sometimes, it’s just easier to pick up the phone to give clarification.
What To Communicate. Please don’t go overboard here or your employees will stop reading what you’re sending. Here are a few suggestions:
Weekly staff meetings: via phone or webinar to engage everyone from all locations so no one misses out on important information. Also recommended is the weekly location staff meeting via phone or webinar, if being there in person is not possible. On these calls sales numbers, production, etc. can be addressed with individual locations.
Yearly physical staff meeting: it’s always a good idea to get all employees together at least once a year (quarterly would be ideal) to hold a much larger staff meeting to go over company initiatives, progress, call out top performers, hold team building activities, and brainstorming sessions with all employees.
Weekly digest of performance: this can be by site, or for all sites. Information on someone who went above and beyond, or how well a specific site is performing – and what they are doing to help them perform at that level, high-level industry news, specific site goals (if appropriate), etc.
Important news / events: there are times when something happens within or outside of the company that is important enough to share with the entire organization. Ensure you have the proper technology and processes in place to get this news to all employees quickly and efficiently.
Open and thoughtful communication enhances employee retention, understanding, and motivation. Every team, every location, and every person’s managing style is different, so how we all approach the way we communicate can be very different. The important thing is that communication happens. Period. The top-producing, best employers have excellent communication processes in place for the entire organization. Figure out what works best for you and your team…and use it.